Posts Tagged ‘Gremlins’


This Sunday I was invited to preach at Knox Presbyterian Church in Calgary on Mark 6:1-7 (New Revised Standard Version):

He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary[a] and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense[b] at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.

Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.

Here is the service:

Here is the link

The Speaking Notes:

Thank you to Mark and the Session for inviting me to speak today as we continue our journey through the Gospel of Mark.

Ever been judged by your backstory? Your family connections? Where you are from? Had unfair assumptions made about you based on how you talk or dress? Ever let those effect who you are in your day-to-day life? Perhaps in what the Dalai Lama dubbed Job, Career or Calling, or in church-speak vocation, y’know what you do to pay the bills, but also what you do because of your passion and who you are? Ever notice how other’s thought patterns or beliefs about who you are, in certain environments can shape your internal monologue? Or even your ability to do what you know you can do?

This is where today’s passage is taking us in the Gospel of Mark. For it can be seen as a moment in time for Jesus, much like we encounter in our own lives. It is one of the gospel moments, I love to take time in community to say, let’s be Jesus in this moment and ponder what we hear from the chorus of neighbours…or as the catch phrase goes, who’s renting space in your mind and heart? We’ll take some time with the passage, and then some time on what we can tease out for our own soul care and soul work.

Read Mark 6:1-7:

He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary[a] and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense[b] at him. 4 Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” 5 And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief. Then he went about among the villages teaching.  

It is presented as an external dialogue, where you can see the encouragement loop and the passive aggressive discouragement loop. Those in attendance praising the work Jesus has done, the power of his words, and his healings. The healings which are more to reveal the unwelcome of community, and to push the boundaries of inclusion and belonging. Then you get the snipers, those that do not want to see good or hear change and look for that. They look to what is known about Jesus, and what the scandals are. How he can hardly be a holy man for just look at his family. He was a tradesman, so how could he be “wise” or, we know his family-his brothers, and sisters. This can be a familiar refrain used for esteem or disrespect dependent on the family’s reputation. It is also being able to show that this were children that grew up and alluding to any known shenanigans Jesus and his siblings got up to. Let’s be honest here, who growing up regardless of place in time in history has not gotten up to some mischief. These are the reminder phrases. In case that doesn’t work though, the nay sayers decide to pull out the ultimate reminder.

They name him through the matriarchal lineage of his mother, Son of Mary (not Son of Joseph as was the tradition and practice). This was pointing out that his father truly was unknown, and that Joseph decided not to follow the law and have Mary cast out or stoned. That is Joseph decided family had more to do with than simple biology and was about belonging. But that was the simplest part of the story, see, Mary, well, Mary was the powerful piece of the story that scared the neighbours I think. If you spend time exploring the Mary visions throughout history, historians and Marian Theologians agree that Mary appears more than Jesus to both Christians and Non-Christians, simply because she can share the message of hope and love without centuries of horrendous baggage. Even though in this moment those “who took offense” are trying to turn her powerful yes to God into baggage for her child and derail what is being heard about the place where all belong, where labels do not matter, and the Image of God is beloved in its beautiful and blessed many forms. See Mary was the teenager in a patriarchal society, God decided the way society worked was not right, and skipped over talking to her father, or her betrothed as she was seen as less, in the Roman Empire as a non-citizen in short form she was property. God didn’t care, he went directly to Mary and asked her. The power of shaking the foundations of the systemic wrongs of that era began, with a peasant class, Jewish teenage girl, simply taking control of her own story, because her Creator honoured their beloved creation not the system of oppression created by man. In the hearing those offended were hoping to derail, in the story what is affirmed though for those with open hearts, is that all have voice and belong.

Though what we see in the closing verses, is what is called unbelief and creates disruption in the story as what is normative for a Jesus visit is not as impactful. Which can leave the reader thinking this is about level of belief for miracles or healing, though in other instances we have seen this not to be the case.  Ponder with me for a moment, could this be a story we enter learn through Jesus’ eyes. In this moment and time, where perhaps, he is feeling a bit of the imposter syndrome while, what may have been happening is that the trip had the same results as others, though the re-introduction of the negative monologue of his childhood had let him and perhaps, those around him, to see the outcome differently.

Have you ever had someone thank you for something and you schluff it off as nothing, or perhaps congratulate you on an achievement and you offer up x,y, or z rationales as to why it wasn’t a big deal? Perhaps offering opportunities the seeking more information loop starts, so your reticence holds you back, or simply the “I’m not good enough” or …. I am sure we all have different voices or impulses or feelings, much like was displayed in this short passage that hold us back or create a filter to experiences so we cannot truly experience and know the wonder we are a part of.

For those who watch RuPaul’s Drag Race, he will talk to the queens in short one to one time and call these tracks the saboteur. It is a life coaching tool; I prefer the term gremlins. It creates such a vivid imagery. There are two things that usually spring to mind, one is the World War II idea of a gremlin which is a mischievous imp that is causing an undiagnosable mechanical failure. See the connection with the offended and the soundtrack being laid down? The other is obviously the campy horror movies of the 1980’s Gremlins, which saw things go awry for the mild mogwai if they get wet or fed after midnight, they turn into horrific monsters of terror. Both works, when our underlying mild gremlin is fed a bit, it can create a space of flight, fight or freeze.

As I contemplated the passage of Jesus’ rejection in his hometown, what the commentators and scholars said, and my own background this is where I saw the connections in the why does this matter to us now. Jesus showed what happens when we leave our gremlins alone, we can still do life, but as the last two verses showed it’s more of a “meh” life. Yet, we also noted high tension in Jesus’ community, and is it also possible that the gremlins and “meh” life moment, kept him and his family safe.  And this brings us into the soul work as we have journeyed through Jesus’ eyes, I now ask for a bit of trust to do some care for ourselves.

If you are able grab a piece of paper and a pen or pencil or simply, come back to this talk when you are ready for this practice.

Take a moment to sit up a bit straighter, centre yourself, however you are comfortable, with some deep diaphragmic breaths.

Now as we come out, take a moment to think of what your internal dialogue, feelings or intuitions are, with your pen and paper- draw your gremlin. Give them form. Take time with comic speech bubbles and add the phrases around or feelings that the gremlin uses.

Is the picture of your gremlin clearer?

You know what’s missing? A name. Take a moment and name your gremlin.

In this process, we are praying and acting. We are taking back our story. It is very hard to do any soul work in a nebulous vacuum. Once named however we can truly work with the gremlin.  Say hi to your gremlin using its name. You are meeting truly for the first time. See everything the gremlin has been a part of.

Do you like the gremlin in your life? Do you want the gremlin out of your life?

This is a key question. Just as Jesus pointed out a prophet in their hometown, it is because the gremlin can be the loudest in the most familiar of places because it can be fed after midnight if you will. Are we going to stop feeding it? If you are ready to get rid of the gremlin, the first step is thanking the gremlin. Why? First, it disarms the power, but also it acknowledges that the gremlin has been a part of your journey for a time, and in that time has done what it thought was best.

Once thanked, now it is time. If you are ready, then say goodbye to your gremlin by name. Once you have said goodbye, then destroy the image, simply ripping it up and putting in the compost or recycle bin, or if safe and you have a tin for outside burning is always good for a freedom ritual. I mean Jesus showed an end of the gremlin as he stepped out of the story and began teaching again the neighbouring towns. His own freedom ritual, with the next story being about sending out his disciples two by two.

I do want to take a moment to caution though, this is one moment in time when we are freeing ourselves from a gremlin. After this moment, they have less power. They may return, but now you are familiar with them. You know their words and tactics. By doing that, you can call them by name, and show them the exit sign.

If you chose not to say goodbye to your gremlin today. That is also fine, we have had a long relationship with them. Talk with someone who you trust, set up a time to revisit the gremlin and your decision. These simple things of follow up coffees or teas can aid in the process. For we are interdependent, we need community. If you chose to say goodbye today, take time to touch base with a good friend to celebrate.

For that is the simple nuance, Jesus heard his gremlins internally and externally in this story. Yet he lived into who he was and moved through their voices to continue with his life and teachings. May we continue to be who we are lovingly created to be as well.

Thank you for entering into the story, and the soul work.

Amen.

For the curious, here is what is happening within Knox Community via the June 2021 Knox’s Binding Threads Newsletter:

Benediction:

The ancient Hebrew story in Genesis reminds us it is not good to be alone. We are created for community, belonging. Created by the spirit, loving one another, as Jesus reminded us to love ourselves, and called very blessed and very good by the loving Creator. Let us go outwards living that love and creating that belonging in our world. Amen.

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Years ago I had the blessing of being asked to preach at a Moravian church on the Christmas eve service. But what does one talk about in the ideals of love at this time of year? How does one reflect on the Christmas story? The shattering of patriarchal roles in Matthew and Luke- Joseph informed if he truly is holy he’d follow Mary’s lead, and Mary being ASKED for consent to be the Christ-bearer. Where it was first announced to the lowliest, for the Love of God (truly, the underlying story of the Hebrew Bible) is open. Yet, what also struck me, is a thread of social gospel.

Today’s centering hymn, listen here.

For it was a story, the census, of groups of oppressed, conquered people under empire (colonialism), where there was active and passive genocide. The count was for taxes, but I would also reckon it was to ensure the Non-Romans were being kept culled and in check. It was the creation of a peoples of episodic homelessness. Those that for times each year would need to travel, and be without stable housing.

See the source image

This was Mary and Joseph.

This was there story entering into Bethlehem, a place they were not wanted, a place where there literally was no room at the Inn. A place, where I can imagine the journey to, and the journey through, they heard many racial and hate filled things and stereotypes. What gremlins would be emerging in Joseph’s mind during this journey with his newly pregnant betrothed? Would this be the first time Mary had seen the evil of the world? or was she, perhaps, at nine months pregnant, feeling safer than she had ever felt in her life from the leering Roman soldiers? The religious oppressors leers?

See the source image

When one finally sees the night, I wonder how much the Inn Keeper’s wife prodded to ensure safety as darkness descended? What was unknown to these weary travelers? Yet, here was love of neighbour even in its awkwardness of offering up the stable. Sometimes, when the storm is raging it is the only option-the challenge for us is to not let the port when the storm is raging (i.e. homeless shelters, fractured government entitlements, foodbanks) become the institutional solution of love when there is better options to show care for our fellow citizens and ourselves (i.e. affordable housing, universal basic income, community gardens, full public education, universal pharmacare, expanding universal health care to include optical, dental, mental health; public day care (with monies for families that have a caregiver at home); oh and as Covid has proven, public and properly funded long term care for our elders).

This is another root of the nativity story, small glimmers, love open for everyone that society said had to qualify for existence, God’s star shone. The light shattered through the darkness showing the simplest of paths, to what should be the safest of spaces:

H-O-M-E.

For home, is not the place we exist, rather it is the place where our true selves, how we were created to be, is birthed into this world.

Benediction hymn here.

What is your home?

What is being born within you for 2021?


It is a weird thought on day 272 of working from home due to the pandemic, that it is also the Sunday of Joy in Advent, the four weeks of preparation leading up to Christmas. We’ve already reflected on Hope & Peace. To come is Faith & Love. Today is joy:

Song for reflection play here.

Read Luke 1 here.

As I have shared previously, my family is taking time each night to sing a Christmas song, and spend time reading a chapter of the Gospel of Luke, discussing and then prayer. It is our way to re-enter the story of joy at the darkest time of year that the Nativity (if you would like to reflect on the Gospel of Matthew, and Jesus’ genealogy I invite you to view this service here , from Bow Valley Christian Church). invites us into. I mean, whether it is historically factual or a literary device, the idea of taking a donkey road tri through precarious occupied lands as a 15-16 year old very pregnant betrothed and a man leaning towards middle age was not what they wanted on their dance card as newly weds. Taking the journey through the usual travel dangers, illness, and stressors plus I am sure what we would come to call Highwaymen, the Romans who would view you as nothing more than property to play or rape with as they saw fit if the fancy took them…never mind being of the labouring class and no guarantee of a safe space to stay once in Bethlehem. Yet this is not the stress on the discernment to go, rather a spiritualized PSA for those in the Christianities bemoaning the current health restrictions in Alberta…look what Mary and Joseph undertook? Now where a mask.

But there is a story of discernment for joy that I would like to reflect into today, and that is from Luke 1, the story of Zacharias and Elizabeth. I can just imagine these scenarios, the Holy seeking consent from Elizabeth and the questions arising in her mind and heart, or as they are known in coaching, gremlins (read more about the practice of dealing with gremlins here). Things around her age? Her ability? That he should really be proper and be asking her husband Zacharias? For you see, I know this wasn’t in the text, but seeing how the Holy approached Mary, I assume, the same conversation happened and what we see is it reflected in the ripple effect to Zacharias. Who was doing his duty, his calling, with rope tied to him to enter the Holy of Holies so if he were to die because he was not clean enough to be there he could be pulled out.

See the source image

Instead he too has a conversation, with many gremlins arising in his own heart and mind, around age, around everything that the religious and villagers had put upon his family for who they were, and without child over their entire marriage. I can only imagine the thoughts, feelings, impulses, and emotions both Zacharias and Elizabeth felt with this calling, and request for an immense course correction. I mean, it left Zacharias mute until John was to be born, to show the belonging, inclusivity, and joy within the journey in spite of the hurdles, hardships, gremlins and barriers.

Personally, I had a different reflection for joy laid out. It was to be on more about the unmuting of Zacharias, the birth of John, and the celebration. Yet, life changes, and things become more real. I thought this, and my social media after a message on Friday would be one of celebration. It still can be, but some reactions coming out of others gremlins from our shared lived experience in Christendom, triggered my own gremlins that have been wrestled, rummaged, and shredded– yet as we know, in times of duress and stress they can re-emerge for it is our comfort zone. They impede and hold us back, just as Zacharias and Elizabeth’s that were alluded to could and should have held them back, yet…another choice was made.

A choice to challenge the gremlin.

To find the joy in the journey, as well as the destination (not a simple either or, but a mutually healthy both and). To move into the courageous safe space of a calling, and let the journey take us to the resounding, and powerful YES, that Elizabeth would experience with meeting Mary, and their babies shared joy of expectations.

So it is now, on the road of my own journey, as another semester of teaching comes to a close in a few days. Something that may be celebratory in the inbox. Awaiting the entry into the final leg of the epilogue of my first book in my life trilogy, will I have refound the voice, as Zacharias did at John the Baptist’s birth? To celebrate the old call (what’s 22 years?) made new again? Or will the gremlins once again silence that which can bring light and love?

This is where we are as we wrestle with joy each and every day of life, since August 15, 2017, and for the past 272 days where I can look back and mourn, weep, and allow it to stagnate, or realize and live into the mystery the Holy has laid out for myself and my family. That is, the journey of joy and the discovery of the Christ-child, each day.

What is the call you are not answering?

What joy will that journey bring?


“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’

-Gospel of Luke 15: 4-5 (New International Version)

What is the role of a Shepherd? Brother Jesus shared how the Holy Mystery was with creation through parables, that is story. The imagery was for the time, and in the instance of the shepherd a lost sheep was lost revenue, and if the flock was not owned by the shepherd then punishment to come. The image of the Shepherd retrieving the lost sheep with it draped around his neck is seen as one of love, but truly it is a lamb that has been hobbled by the Shepherd’s staff so it can’t walk and re-learns to be with the flock.This parable has been used to create sheeple within pews, that is, it has created a sense of fear for the lost sheep has been cast as one who has descended into “sin” or “evil” and needs to be forcefully converted back.

A flip side of the coin for the parable is the way it was used in Star Trek Voyager’s Season 6 episode “Good Shepherd”.  Captain Janeway has three members of her crew brought to her attention that have not come into who they are truly meant to be: Mortimer an engineer who would rather be lost in centuries solved physic debates than achieve his own greatness, Celes who cannot even chase her passion because she has convinced herself she is incompetent, and Billy, who has created a wall of hypochondria to protect himself.

Yes, each thing may be seen as a barrier, or just laziness. But the story also illustrates the overcoming and naming of Gremlins by each crew member. The Gremlin, or saboteur, what others may suggest is a Shadow or soul sludge is that which protects us but also keeps us frozen in our here and now. We cannot move forward. It is the heart of the Good Shepherd story, not violence or forceful compliance. It is the journey of discovery for all involved.

First off, the Shepherd discovers the one(s) that has fallen between the cracks, that has let Gremlins take over. The conversation and actions open up to remove the Gremlin.

Secondly, the Sheep must be willing to identify and name the Gremlin, thank the Gremlin for the care it has provided, but still release it to oblivion.

Finally, if not, then the outcome of the Parable is the ultimate fear and that is loss of the Lamb to the wolf.

What it comes down to though for the journey of life is the answer to a simple question deep within our own souls:

Do you trust you to be you?

 


We do not encourage being present in the moment. No matter the aspect of life we are existing in: personal, professional, membership clubs, etc. We are rushing most of the time. We want the next step, the next big thing. With our children we are constantly pushing them to thrive harder, take on more, what happened to that missing 5% from the 95/100. You have to know what you want to do with your life, you are after all 10 years old. What is your 5, 10, 15 year plan? What is the career path you see laid out before you?

What you can’t help with that now it does not fit the plan laid out. Oh, something came up, well it has to be put off until later, not what we want now.  Ridged. Scheduled. Planned out. No wiggle room. Must achieve what you say and do it exemplary.

Trace Adkins’ You’re Going to Miss this, watch/listen here 

Kenney Chesney’s Don’t Blink. Watch/listen here.

If you are not the person or parent preaching/planning like this there must be something wrong with you. Want to confuse a teacher at at CBE parent-teacher conference, ask about social things in the school, speak of holistic education, talk about the outcome being citizenry and zest for lifelong learning, not just a university entrance GPA. Talk about the child/student discovering who they are, their passions and interests and growing a path from that.

Want to confuse friends? Put out there that University or Technical school is not a must for your child. That your child may only have 1 extra-curricular they are booked into, that they want to just spend time in play with their friends. That the kids want to be kids.

It confuses folks, because it is the antithesis of the world we have created. Yet the world we have created has created an outcome that anyone could see coming– children with mental health issues most (if they experienced) would not see until middle age…yet we are talking those at one point in psychiatric history should not be labelled or diagnosed as such is now normative.

What happened? Listen to the two songs above. We have created a world that cannot be in the moment. Cannot be present to the experience that is now. Cannot find contentment in the now. Yes change happens, yet change needs to come from not wrestling with the current gremlin of felt insufficiency or drive to be seen with esteem.

Change comes from following your own interior compass of who you are.

And you have that interior compass, because you have had the time to discover who you are.

Be honest with yourself. In your rush in life up to this point to stick to the plan, to achieve:

What have you missed?

When you close your eyes and think of life, what was gone in a blink?

You cannot change the past, but you can live into the present which in the future will let you look back and know that you didn’t miss what was most important in the blink of an eye.

For your heart eye was on what mattered in life, not the shiny bauble before the magpie.

Bonus listen: Tim McGraw’s Live like you’re dying


It never hurts to pause, and re-examine the core beliefs you were indoctrinated with in life. At different steps in life. That is what the discussion of the Sermon on the Mount was about. Shattering/obliterating the old that needed to go; preserving that which is true to you, and building upon that to flavour a new future. Being blessed in the tension of transfiguration, and knowing that no matter what the world, your community, your family or your own inner saboteur/gremlin may tell you—YOU ARE COMPLETE AND WORTHY JUST THE WAY YOU ARE. It may sound corny, but corny is because we know it’s the true we do not want to accept.

The journey of interior/exterior change continues. The laws and lawyer classes had made things convoluted (hmmm…) and no one was sure where different groups stood on what was allowed or not, what was true or not. In fact, the family that ruled between the Empire and the Religious Oppressors maintained authority by constantly playing all sides of the conflict (like a modern day dark money PAC will).

What is resonating of the past where these words were spoken, that is true in your world today?

Take a moment and mind map it out or draw it or journal it—whatever creative process you use to let go of the rational, and let the creative energy flow. What in your world today is holding you captive so that you cannot live into the best you? What is the gremlin trapping within you?

33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.[n]

-Matthew 5:33-37 (NRSV)

So much rhetoric was destroying the ability to trust one another. People were taking on things not because they wanted to. It was out of fear of losing out. Fear of being kept out. Fear of not keeping up. Building one’s own prestige. One’s own “holiness” or reputation…and the list can go on and on.

The core though was they were being untrue to themselves. They were keeping up with whatever voice was sabotaging them, they had to prove/disprove things that did not matter.

We all hear a voice like this at times, or many times. What rings in your head that keeps your word from being simply yes or no?

Pause on that.

Name it. I like Clyde, but what name resonates with you.

Draw them, and spend a moment or perhaps several. When you are ready to silence the false voice. The Gremlin/Saboteur. Dispose (tear up, burn up, throw out)…but only when you are ready. For this is a step into the authentic you, not just a per functionary check box on a spiritual bucket list.

Are you ready to destroy the false promise of you and enter the true assertion of you?

Burn a Gremlin.


Read Aquarian Gospel 129 here.

Transfiguration. It is one of those unique stories that some have alluded to, almost like Clark Kent changing into Superman. But then that removes the mystical aspect. For it is a transformation.

Perhaps there is more for us to uncover than simply changing clothes.

What if it was more akin to when the Incredible Hulk becomes Bruce Banner. When the ego run rampant, that which separates us from the Holy Mystery is stripped away to truly live into our vocational calling of brilliance. For, the Hulk was the protector. In life coaching, we coin the term saboteur or gremlin. That which allows us to survive in life, but holds us back from truly thriving. It is once we have released the monster truly from our being, and lived into our true self that we are at peace, content, whole in Holy Love…

Transfigured.

Like Brother Jesus:

  1. And as he prayed a brilliant light appeared; his form became as radiant as a precious stone;
    13. His face shone like the sun; his garments seemed as white as snow; the son of man became the son of God.
    14. He was transfigured that the men of earth might see the possibilities of man.

-129:12-14

Peter, James and John play the role of showing what has allowed survival…but the next step into thriving they show letting go of the past in the manifestations of Moses and Elijah to live into the Cosmic Christ.

First acknowledge and give voice to that holding you back.

Draw it out.

Prepare your self for release.

Thank the Gremlin for allowing you to survive up until now, while acknowledging it is time to move forward in your new life.

Destroy/discard the image when truly ready to step out of the past, this is the monument left on the mountain.

  1. The veil that separates the worlds is but an ether veil. For those who purify their hearts by faith the veil is rolled aside, and they can see and know that death is an illusive thing.

                        –129:19

For the old must die, for the new to be born, like a fire releasing the seed of life within the pine cone.

  1. And all symbolic of the path that every man must tread; symbolic of the way the sons of men become the sons of God.

                        –129:24

The symbolism of release, the stepping into your new reality connecting with the Cosmic Christ-Holy Mystery within. Letting your love light shine brightly within your own transfiguration. Each moment of each day.

The question is, are you willing to leave the gremlins on the mountain top and descend with the Holy Mystery into true life?